Death Traps

An estimated 120,000 Americans die in accidents each year. Here's how to avoid being one of them.

What Is Music For?

Some argue that music is an evolutionary accident. It seems likely, though, that such a powerfully emotional force must offer a concrete survival advantage

How Real Life Change Happens

What we believe about ourselves depends less on what we think than what we do. To become a different person, first change your actions, and everything else will fall into place.

The Grandeur of Delusion

Though we’d like to think that we mold our beliefs to fit reality, often we do the reverse: to mold our perception of reality so that it fits with our beliefs, no matter how flimsy they may be.

The Invisible Psychopath

It can take years to unveil a troubling soul.

Can You Really Be Addicted to Sunday Football?

Once, drugs and alcohol were addictive. Now the view is that you can get hooked on things like sex, sports, even rock music. It may sound like we're just making excuses for bad behavior, but there's a powerful urgency behind our beliefs about addiction.

Everest’s Psychological Trap

What makes Everest the most dangerous mountain on Earth? Along with extreme cold, low oxygen, high winds, and bad weather, there's another, more elusive factor: the psychologically warping effect of the summit itself.

Breaking Anxiety's Bizarre Death Loop

A person can be utterly overwhelmed by fear even though there's nothing organically wrong within his or her brain: complex systems can go off the rails despite every component working properly, a phenomenon of which ant colonies offer a vivid example.

Stories Create the World

Everything we see, touch, hear, or smell is infused with significance thanks to irresistible subconscious processes. We can’t help being immersed in meaning. But we can change what things mean.

Fear Turns Invisible

New York City mayor and licensed pilot Michael Bloomberg recently described how he survived an inflight emergency. Could he really have done it without feeling any fear?

The Doorway From Impossible

The Wrights’ “first airplane” was such a poor flyer that it barely qualified to be called an airplane at all. But it achieved something more important than flight.

What's Your Favorite Mistake?

I've never felt so flat-out dumb as I did that day. I'll never forget that horrible feeling of shame, seeping over me like hot acid, as I realized that I'd done something that could not easily be undone.

Why Facebook Is Failing

The company has striven to bind together every aspect of the internet experience, to achieve immortality through intrusiveness. And this, I think, will be their undoing.

Why Your Brain’s Wrong About Danger

The world is full of potential hazards. Unfortunately, the things that we're afraid of oftentimes aren't the things that are actually mostly likely to hurt us.

What Passengers Experienced During AF447's Final Moments

We will never know for sure what it would have been like to experience the last few minutes of the doomed flight, but the retrieved data allows us to make a pretty good guess.

How Panic Doomed an Airliner

What doomed the 228 men, women and children aboard Air France 447 was neither weather nor technological failure, but simple human error. Under pressure, human beings can lose their ability to think clearly and to properly execute their training—a well-known failing that has proven all too difficult to eliminate.

The Truth About Lies

The truth about how professional interrogators can unmask liars is even more fascinating than the misconceptions spread by the popular media.

Surviving Fear under the Ice

"Here I am, under the ice, struggling upside down, and all but blind."

Forging a Soul of Iron

Gerry Duffy, a rangy, chiseled 43-year-old from Ireland, ranks one of the most formidible endurance athletes in the world. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about him is that he used to be just like the rest of us.

How Congress Is Like an Addict's Brain

If one addiction researcher's groundbreaking ideas are correct, then governments' plans tend to fall apart for the very same reason that our individual attempts at self-control do.

How GPS Makes Clueless Drivers

As we hand over more of our mental functions to our machines, we're lulled into dangerous complacency, losing track of where we are and what we're doing.

The Thing Inside You That's Holding You Back

Coaches are forever asking us to give "110 percent." But scientists have discovered that we always have more to give, no matter what form of exertion we're undertaking. We can't consciously choose to tap it, however, because our minds have a subconscious self-limiting mechanism.

It's Not the Scary Things That Kill You

Some things seem innately healthful and good, even though they can kill you. Others seem inherently dangerous and unwholesome, even though they actually improve our quality of life. How do our subconscious minds decide what's good for us, and why do they lead us astray?

Is Storm Chasing Immoral?

Storm chasers enjoying immersing themselves in a weather phenomenon as brutal and violent as a battlefield. Indeed, their activities may actively contribute to the death toll. Twelve years ago, I went storm-chasing and got caught up in the aftermath of a deadly F5 twister. There was one death in particular that made me forever question the morality of storm chasing.

Apocalypse Today: The Allure of Bad Theory

Erroneous theories aren't just the province of the lunatic fringe. They're part of everyone's basic cognitive legacy.

Right Wingers and the Reptile Brain

A researcher finds that right wingers have more in the amygdala and less in the frontal cortex. But what, exactly, does that mean?

How Fear Destroyed a Career

Up until three weeks ago, Tom Durkin was hard at work, studying for the upcoming running of the Kentucky Derby. Then he called up his employers and tendered his resignation.

The Mystery of Clutch Performance

Athletes like Chris Drury and David Ortiz have earned a reputation for pulling off amazing feats under high pressure. Here's how they do it.

How Dogs Read Our Minds

Humans and dogs have a way of intuiting one another’s emotions – of feeling like we know what the other is feeling -- that is unique among all the species on earth. But how they can achieve it is something of a biological puzzle.

The Ecology of Misinformation

It's the paradox of the internet age: never before has so much information been available so effortlessly, so quickly -- and never before has so much of it been completely erroneous. How do we decide what is true?